For context : A squad hunters has been assigned to capture a Tyrannosaurus Rex for the grand opening of a new amazing zoo. They will be sent to a location in Montana 66 million years ago using a time warp (one-way, and opened for 1 hour) and will have about 1 month to find and capture an adult T. Rex before the time warp re-opens. They have limited funds (most of the money goes in the opening of the time warp) so the cheaper solution, the better.

  • How many hunters are needed ?
  • What equipment is needed (vehicle, medicines, food, shelter) ?
  • How would they find a T. Rex in the jungle ?
  • How could they capture a T. Rex alive ?
  • How would they move the T. Rex to the location of the time warp ?

To be clear, my question is about the strategy involved in capturing a T. Rex alive and is NOT about imagining the plot of the capture of the T. Rex by the hunters.

  • $\begingroup$ how much gear and vehicles can they bring? You can spot it from helicopters and drones, shoot it with tranquilizer darts from same helicopter, and transport using this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missile_vehicle, or rafts along the rivers. Imho, the biggest problem will be not catching some prehistoric virus (or fungus, or bacterium) and bringing it back to modern time. $\endgroup$
    – Bald Bear
    Aug 29, 2018 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ I'd look at how "they" tranquilize and transport elephants (for their size), as well as how you tranquilize wild turkeys (for the genetic similarity). $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Aug 29, 2018 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ @BaldBear They have limited funds so it is better to priviledge a cheap solution (they want to keep some funds to capture other animals) $\endgroup$
    – user53220
    Aug 29, 2018 at 20:20
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    $\begingroup$ And I'd read A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Aug 29, 2018 at 20:21
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    $\begingroup$ A new amazing zoo that can send people 66Mya for a Tyrannosaurus effing Rex and they cheap out on equipment??? $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Aug 29, 2018 at 20:23

10 Answers 10


You need to work on the "limited funds" bit. The T-rex capture in 2nd Jurassic Park movie (Lost World, 1997) is entirely plausible, and would cost less than $10M. If that is sizable comparable to cost of time travel, then time travel is cheap enough for tens if not hundreds of countries and billionaires to do it. So you need an explanation. Maybe time-travel organization is almost bankrupt, and T-rex is a last-resort PR stunt. Maybe your dino hunters do not have full support of the organization. Or maybe warp is a natural phenomenon that nobody but your protagonists know of believe.

Here is a realistic plan

  • Locate TRex using drones.
  • Bait TRex to portal location using meat dangling from said drones
  • Shoot tranquilizer guns, with human shooters up in the trees, or via remote-controlled turrets.

With movie-style luck and disregard for safety, a few skilled few people and an SUV-full of mildly expensive gear should handle it.

In practice, they will have a few logistical problems:

  • Keep the whole team alive in a land of dinosaurs, for a month. You will need very hardened shelter (a decommissioned APC?), or 24/7 watchmen (I hope dinosaurs are as afraid of fire as modern animals).

  • Keep the captured dino alive and contained until the warp day. Maybe chemically induced coma (and a vet to make sure the dino does wakes up), maybe keep him cold (not freezing), maybe bring along a sufficiently strong cage (which requires a full-size truck). You will also have to keep smaller predators away from the sleeping T-Rex.
    One radical solution is to implant electrodes into the brain of tranquilized dino, which let humans steer him once he is awake. I assume they will practice doing it on modern lizards, and it works on the TRex. So let him roam free until portal day, then bring him in.

Here is a hollywood-style underdog version:

  • Team:

    • One veterinarian specializing in reptiles, with lifelong love of dinosaurs (female as per genre conventions);
    • One hunter/tracker, of Native American descent, or otherwise One With Nature;
    • One (ex-)military guy, who gives his guns (female) names; optional really
  • Supplies:

    • guns & ammo, including tranquilizer gun.
    • portable solar-powered drones if your budget allows it (solar panels & drones will be much more effective by the time we invent time travel).
    • Camping supplies if you want to be realistic.
    • motion detectors if you want to be high-tech. Otherwise, hide in a cave.
    • If you need to physically move T-rex through the warp portal, you will need a flatbed truck with a TRex-grade cage on it.
  • Tactics:

    1. Military guy provides security, by shooting anything that is not T-Rex.
    2. Tracker or drones find the T-Rex. This can take a while, but will provide bonding opportunities for tracker and vet.
    3. Military guy shoots some peaceful herbivore and butchers it.
    4. Tracker and vet make a trail of meat leading T-rex to the general area around the warp site. Ideally, stay within earshot of T-rex, and occasionally bang a spoon on a pot. Zoom in on bewildered reaction of military guy.
    5. Once at the warp site, establish a routine. Same time each day, lay out fresh meat, and bang pot with a spoon. T-rex will soon learn to come. It works on lizards, it will work on T-Rex. Hunters are supposed to be smart.
    6. On warp day, put sleeping powder into meat, and shoot T-rex with tranquilizer. Military guy can get killed here.
    7. If you need to physically move T-rex through the warp portal, you will have to condition it to take the meat from inside the cage. On warp day, lock the cage door behind him, still shoot it with tranq, and maybe use sleeping gas (like with King Kong). B/c it might hurt itself trying to get out.
    8. Vet and tracker kiss in front of T-rex's undulating nostrils as the warp's glare conceals them from us.
    9. Sequel: tracker and vet save T-Rex from the cruel zoo where corporate types put it.

PS Back to reality. Oxygen level was different back then. Old view is that there was more oxygen, so people will suffer from Oxygen Poisoning, and TRex will be out of breath in modern times. New results say it's the other way around: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131118081043.htm

  • $\begingroup$ Keeping it cool like a lizard may not work, they are exothermic animals most Paleontologists now think dinosaurs weren't. $\endgroup$
    – Sarriesfan
    Aug 29, 2018 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure a vet learned on modern animals could say much about an extinct one. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Aug 30, 2018 at 6:09
  • $\begingroup$ A vet trained in large birds and crocodiles (there are such vets in florida) would probably be your best bet. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 30, 2018 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ I love your ninth point ! It could also be that the TRex captures the vet and climbs the Empire State Building before being attack by airplanes. $\endgroup$
    – user53220
    Aug 30, 2018 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Using a simple pit trap would be a big beneficial step for any of these plans. $\endgroup$
    – cowlinator
    Jan 26, 2021 at 0:05

The cheapest way is to sell the rights to the hunt. Sure you're capturing it alive but what mega rich trophy hunter wouldn't sell their soul for a chance to bag the world's first T-Rex?

He'd outfit himself with the gun's (tranc of course) and the locator drones plus armoured mobile accommodation. He'd foot the whole bill for the operation.

Ideally you'd use small drones to locate and follow possible candidates. At the point where the warp will open again, you'd bag your prey and transport via large transport drones back to the pick up location. Depending on how far away the T-Rex was, it might only be trancced for a couple of hours.

In the end you'd have your T-Rex and make a tidy profit to boot.......

  • $\begingroup$ This is genius, by far the cheapest (and most cost-effective) way to capture a T-rex alive. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 25, 2021 at 21:24

If your goal is to accomplish this with the smallest possible pricetag, you need:

  • A box to hold the T-Rex
  • A road flare

Steps are:

  • Wave the flare to get the T-Rex's attention
  • Throw the flare towards the box.
  • Remain motionless, so that the T-Rex goes after the flare rather than you
  • Do not let Jeff Goldblum anywhere near your T-Rex.

Fortunately, the last point works in our favor. We could not afford his fee anyways.

Jurassic Park image

Disclaimer: This plan may cut a few corners in the name of cost savings. Remember, The Company has your best interests in mind. Trust The Company.


The cheapest Method Possible...

How many Hunters: 0 (1 if you need someone to signal them to teleport back)

Equipment: Bait

Method: Just dump all the bait onto the teleportation location. When a T-Rex eventually comes by just activate the teleporter which will teleport the T-Rex back into a Cage. The hunter comes back later, or the cage should allow him to slip through, the T-Rex should be focused on the meet and not some strange 2 legged hairless white thing.

Of course waiting for a T-Rex to just show up might be unlikely, but you will want to identify a general area where you knew T-Rex's existed in the first place and place the teleporter and bait there to increase your odds. You have 30 days, so you can be patient.

  • $\begingroup$ TRex doesn't want to be fed, TRex wants to hunt! $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Aug 30, 2018 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon TRex doesn't want to be put in a cage and be gawped at by white skinless monkeys either $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Aug 30, 2018 at 6:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Shadowzee Skinless ? $\endgroup$
    – user53220
    Aug 30, 2018 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ @user53220 Well, it should technically be hairless or featherless, or maybe scaleless $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Aug 31, 2018 at 0:17

One very big problem being overlooked here is that no one knows the actual social behaviour of the T-Rex. While the traditional view was it was a solitary predator, there is some opinion that T-Rex actually moved and hunted in family groups or small flocks, with chicks staying in the nest, while adolescents, being proportionally lighter and longer limbed than the adults spread out and acted as "drivers" to flush prey into the ambush positions the adults were waiting in. As terrifying as a single T-Rex would be, being chased by several young agile T-Rex's into a copse of trees where the two adults are waiting would be taking that terror level up to "11"

enter image description here

Oh crap! Where did they all come from!

So our hunters will quickly become the hunted, and unless they are encased in an MRAP class vehicle and packing some heavy firepower to fend off the flock, they will be in a world of trouble. Trying to separate a young T-Rex from the flock will be problematic, they are working as cooperative units to drive you towards the parents, and it is fairly easy to imagine the parents are in that copse of trees because that is also where the nest with the T-Rex chicks are. So you are going to be up against an entire family group of very large, hungry and likely foul tempered examples of the biggest and most powerful carnivore to ever walk the Earth.

Good luck.

enter image description here

T-Rex hunting. You start with this....

  1. Hunters needed: One, though it would be safer to take at least three.
  2. Equipment needed: Large mining truck, mobile crane truck and straps, Drones with tranquilizer darts and RFID tracking tags and related tracking equipment, breathing equipment (similar to what divers use), a gas separation and pressurization unit, and a big gun with ammo for protection.
  3. The drones would cover a large area and tag/tranquilize the T-Rex. You probably only want to tranquilize the T-Rex within your last few days of your hunt so you don't have to worry about keeping it alive while unconscious. Additionally killing a large dinosaur near your time warp would be a good strategy because the T-Rex was a scavenger at least as much as it was a predator, making a large dead carcass a good lure.
  4. The T-Rex will be easily captured while unconscious.
  5. The crane will lift the T-Rex onto the truck which will drive through the time warp.

You might be wondering about the breathing equipment and gas system. The truth is that we don't know what the atmosphere was like during the time of the dinosaurs, but it was certainly different than it is now (both in composition and in pressure). You will need this equipment just to survive for more than a few hours in these conditions.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Wouldn't keeping a large dead dinosaur at your target site mean you attract a whole mess of dangerous scavengers every day and night for the whole month you're there? $\endgroup$
    – abarnert
    Aug 30, 2018 at 1:09
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    $\begingroup$ @abarnert You could just get a new one occasionally. Plus, the more dinosaurs around the more likely a T-Rex will also come right??? Either way, who minds if you capture a couple of other scavengers while your time travelling $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Aug 30, 2018 at 3:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Shadowzee The whole question is about how to do this as cheaply as possible. Defending yourself against dangerous dinosaurs isn't free—it doesn't get any cheaper if you capture them instead of killing them, driving them away, or hovering out of their reach; in fact, it may even be the most expensive of those options. Much cheaper to deal with only the T. rex and the handful of other dinosaurs that happen to randomly get too close than to actively draw in dozens and dozens more to deal with. $\endgroup$
    – abarnert
    Aug 30, 2018 at 3:11
  • $\begingroup$ @abarnert You don't have to have the dead dino right by where you set up your equipment. Also, ammo is not that big of a cost considering the scope of your project. $\endgroup$
    – Mathaddict
    Aug 30, 2018 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Mathaddict As I and others pointed out in comments on the question, it seems like nothing ought to be that big of an expense compared to the cost of blasting a hole through spacetime, so really, just send a whole attack helicopter wing. But the OP really does seem to be looking for a shoestring-budget solution. $\endgroup$
    – abarnert
    Aug 30, 2018 at 16:01

Because of the way the way the scenario is set up, I don't think drones would be effective, as there would be no communications during the month long period the time warp is inactive.

Also, baiting the time portal location will not work, at least because the time warp will not reactivate for another month. T-rex will be long gone. Also, T-rex may not like the smell of "modern" cuisine: he be wary of or disregard the bait.

Another possible, and cheap strategy:

  • Get some brave lads to hide up in a tree near the time portal site with a big sack.
  • Hunter will stalk & lure T-rex along the path under the tree.
  • Drop sack over T-rex's head & cinch the drawstrings tight.
  • T-rex now feels safe and cozy and calm.
  • Activate portal & drag T-rex into it using a pre-arranged winch on the other side.
  • Bob's your uncle!

Total cost £78,000:

£ 50,000 for surplus armoured transport vehicle (will serve as a secure camp)

£ 25,000 fee for professional big game hunter

£ 2,950 rations, supplies, back-up water, fuel

£ 50 bespoke sack (XXL/TTG, drawstring, heavy duty)

£ 0 crew of six archaeology undergrads to serve a variety of directed functions

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    $\begingroup$ The weight of the guys balls who is dropping the sack would kill the T-Rex $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Aug 30, 2018 at 4:37
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    $\begingroup$ They are without doubt, of the purest brass! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 30, 2018 at 7:59

I think that first thing you need is a big carbon nanotube reinforced box, where once the T-Rex is in it, it cannot escape. We would need a nutritious group of hunters. You would need something to attract it's attention, so maybe a Flare and inside the box, some meat so that the T-Rex will come to it. There should be some tracking technology, such as drones that found a T-Rex, with infrared radiation. Tranquilizer darts would help calm the dinosaur and then a helicopter would pick it up. To take it through the time warp you would need to pass the helicopter through the time warp and finally get it to the zoo, where it would be exhibited and restrained.

Of course, the best answer is to look for an unguarded chicks nest and take one, after genetically engineer it to make it adaptable to our atmosphere and let it grow and associate itself to humans.

  • $\begingroup$ Well thought out answer, great job! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 25, 2021 at 22:19

Frame challenge - STEAL THE EGGS

Why bother with an adult? One only? What if it dies due to any factor?
Spot a nest (or more than one) steal all the eggs you can find and have them hatch.

Advantages: You will be able to bring in many individuals, probably of opposite sex.
You will have baby T-Rexes. This will be huge for PR and attracting funds (remember little bear Knut?)
Most likely the young ones will grow more used to human contact and be tamer. Make sure a trusted employee is there when the little ones crack the egg.

So a small team able to move undetected will be needed.

  1. open portal in an area that was known to host T-Rex
  2. launch a swarm of drones to map the place and it's inhabitants
  3. locate / build a safe area to set up camp
  4. locate the T-Rex nest(s) and best paths to approach them (consider also air path if it is possible to teleport in a large chopper like a blackbird. Do install gatlings).
  5. get to the nest, get the eggs and leave the area as quickly as possible. The female is likely in the area
  6. repeat at will with other nests until the month is up and you can leave the area with the precious eggs

Point 0: pick the date WISELY. The K-Pg exctinction event has been dated at 66 millions years ago +/- 24k years (crazy accurate actually). You don't want to be there when it happens. K-Pg dating

Completely unrelated but interesting page about pregnant T-Rex: link


There are a lot of answers that assume tranquilizer darts work. The problem is we have little idea what will work and be safe on a T-rex.

I would be inclined to take a different approach: Use bait to lure him into a narrow canyon he can't climb out of, then blast the entrance. Now you have a contained T-rex that you can carefully try increasing doses until you find what works.


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